Chalk Painting on the Sidewalk

Last fall I wrote a blog titled “What’s in a Tidbit.” It was about a neighborhood gathering for an older couple who were leaving their home of 37 years to move into a retirement apartment.

Yesterday I was taking a walk around the neighborhood. As I came up the hill and turned the corner on our block, I passed the house of the people who had hosted the gathering. Knowing they are spending this week in New York City, I thought about where they might be staying: East Side, West Side, Theater District, etc.? I have a penchant for the Upper West Side, so I decided to place them there. I wondered what art exhibits they would be seeing. Having recently scanned the New Yorker art museum listings, I placed one of their outings at the Guggenheim to see “Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/Performance” because I had read that “much contemporary photography and video is haunted by the past, often by its own recent history,” a conception of contemporary photography I have thought true myself.

As I walked past the house of our departed neighbors, my eyes caught a vision chalked on the sidewalk of sky flooded by rainbow, rain, and floating clouds; a few steps over it, a heart, a dancing flower, a starburst. In the myrtle off to the side stood a little bottle-green watering can.

I remember seeing my aging neighbor down on her knees amongst these delicate purple flowers digging away at something, her upper torso rigid, bent over.

Sometime in the past couple of months, a young family has moved into the house my older neighbors moved out of. The old mailbox has been painted an orange-red. The children now own the sidewalk with the drawings from their minds.